In Shona folklore arguing over a “road” has always been forbidden and there are number of stories to illustrate the tragic ends of all those who have been involved in such arguments.
Arguing over a road in this case means, for example, when travellers reach a crossroads they should never quarrel on which turn to take. They should sit down and wait for another traveller to come by and give them directions.
This also applies to flooded rivers; there should never be a quarrel whether to cross a flooded river or not. People simply shouldn’t cross a flooded bridge!
Every year reports abound of people who have perished simply because they wouldn’t heed advice not to drive on flooded bridges.
The picture of the top of a car in a flooded river reported in the Press over the weekend made sad reading. A motorist, against sound advice from other motorists, tried to cross Ngwazani River Bridge near Kadoma. Needless to say he didn’t make it, dying along with seven of his passengers who included children.
Among the dead were a 20-month-old toddler, a four-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. The loss of such innocent lives is always touching. These are blameless souls whose lives the motorist should have striven to protect. They were not old enough to have a say on what the motorists had to do. It would seem that two whole families perished in the disaster.
As the rains continue to fall in abundance, more such cases will be reported from across the country, even when the police have issued a stern warning against crossing flooded rivers.
It would not be surprising to hear that the daredevil motorists were driving under the influence of alcohol or some such intoxicating substance because no sane motorist would dare to cross a river with all the knowledge that Zimbabweans have of past incidents.
In the next few weeks water will continue to flow heavily into the rivers and with it will be all sorts of debris including mud and logs. The water will make it virtually impossible to estimate its depth. It would be foolhardy therefore of anyone to think that they understand how the water is flowing.
Passengers should be more circumspect than ever in dealing with their drivers. They should never encourage or abet any risky behaviour on the part of drivers. They should have the courage to stand up to the such drivers and if need be report them to the police.
Time is past when travellers have been driven to their deaths like sheep without raising as much as a bleat.
The Zimbabwe National Road Authority should also launch a campaign to educate motorists on the dangers of driving across flooded bridges and patrol all roads under their jurisdiction identifying which bridges can or cannot be used during this time of the year.